Hate speech and racist language aren’t new on Twitter but an uptick in the use of the N-Word slur was noticed in the days after Elon Musk took over ownership of the social media network. According to reports, the use of the slur is part of a trolling campaign meant to test the limits of free speech on the platform.
The Twitter takeover by Musk was celebrated by many on the extreme right who feel that censorship on Twitter has overreached as it relates to the right to freedom of speech. The N-Word, and by N-Word we mean the hard “r” version, has often been used on the service often by trolls too fearful and witless to do so under real user profiles.
Yoel Roth, Head of Safety & Integrity at Twitter, posted a thread over the weekend which opened with, “Let’s talk for a minute about slurs, hateful conduct, and trolling campaigns. Bottom line up front: Twitter’s policies haven’t changed. Hateful conduct has no place here. And we’re taking steps to put a stop to an organized effort to make people think we have.”
Roth adds, “Over the last 48 hours, we’ve seen a small number of accounts post a ton of Tweets that include slurs and other derogatory terms. To give you a sense of scale: More than 50,000 Tweets repeatedly using a particular slur came from just 300 accounts.”
One of the other slurs is directed towards Jewish people, for those keeping scores. This was expected given the recent talk of antisemitism and the like.
Roth concluded the thread by saying most of the Twitter accounts hurling slurs were “inauthentic” and promptly banned while promising around-the-clock efforts to stem the tide of the racist trolling. Musk also made brief comments although he’s been vague in his replies to all concerns related to his newly-acquired business.